Teacher Evaluation Program: Malloy, Pryor and General Assembly slam door on a locally developed plans

Implementing Connecticut’s new “teacher evaluation program” will be the most costly initiative local boards of education will be facing over the next couple of years.  No one dismisses the importance of developing more effective teacher evaluation efforts, but the convoluted and complex system being developed by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor will have a massive impact on how local schools function.

With limited state support, Connecticut’s cities and towns will collectively have to pay tens of millions to implement the new, state-mandated evaluation system.  Add in the time required of superintendents, principals, administrators and teachers and the impact will be extraordinary, both in terms of cost and time taken away from instructional work.

When Governor Malloy’s “education reform” bill passed during the 2012 session of the Connecticut General Assembly it included an important provision that allowed towns to develop their own teacher evaluation systems, as long as those systems were approved by the State Board of Education.

The ability of towns to tailor their own evaluation systems was one of the few provisions that honored Connecticut’s historic commitment to allowing the citizens of each community to govern their own school systems.

At the time, legislators recognized the fundamental right of communities to develop teacher evaluation systems that meet state standards but took into consideration all the factors that go into managing a local school system.

But then, as the clock approached midnight on the second to last night of the recent legislative session, an incredible and stunning amendment was adopted by the legislature.

In the bill that allowed towns to “phase-in” the state’s new teacher evaluation system over the next two years, rather than forcing all of the changes this year, the legislature added two significant restrictions to a town’s right to develop their own system.

Using language provided by Commissioner Pryor’s staff, the legislation was changed to read that towns could only develop their own teacher evaluation systems if they, “expressed an intent, not later than July 1, 2013, to adopt a teacher evaluation program.”

The language means that even though the state system has not been finalized, if school superintendents and local boards of education do not inform Commissioner Pryor by July 1, 2013 that they intend to create a locally-developed system, they are prohibited from ever developing their own plan and must instead utilize the state plan no matter how bad it may be for their community.

Second, under the old language, the Connecticut’s State Board of Education was required to approve or reject a town’s locally developed plan.  The Board’s participation assured that these decisions would be made in an open and transparent way and the local boards of education and the citizens of the community could come to a public board meeting to make their case, hear the discussion and see the vote.

Instead, the new amendment removed the role of the State Board and simply authorized Commissioner Pryor to decide the fate of any community-developed teacher evaluation plans.

One moment the law guaranteed that the state’s decisions were made in the light of day and in a public setting and the next, local communities were left twisting in the wind, forced into a situation where their local plans will be simply approved or rejected behind closed doors.

So now, as a result of the changes put forward by the Malloy Administration and Commissioner Pryor, and approved by the Connecticut General Assembly, superintendents and local boards of education have only TWO WEEKS to submit their intent should they want to develop their own local teacher evaluation systems…and even if they do submit a plan, its fate rests solely in the hands of a Commissioner who has no educational experience.

The new law now reads as follows:

“Section 10-151b (d) A local or regional board of education may phase in full implementation of the teacher evaluation and support program adopted pursuant to subsection (b) of this section during the school years commencing July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, pursuant to a teacher evaluation and support program implementation plan adopted by the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, not later than July 1, 2013. The Commissioner of Education may waive the provisions of subsection (b) of this section and the implementation plan provisions of this subsection for any local or regional board of education that has expressed an intent, not later than July 1, 2013, to adopt a teacher evaluation program for which such board requests a waiver in accordance with this subsection.”

The amendment passed the House of Representatives unanimously, with all Democrats and Republicans voting yes, on June 4th, 2013 at 10:49 p.m.

  • ReTired

    Was wondering how long it would take for you to investigate this debacle and share it with the world! Regardless, superintendents, building principals won’t get the job done correctly. Instead they’ll use the opportunity not to retool underachieving teachers, but use the “data” as a rational for conducting witch hunts followed by dismissal. Lack of quality time for both administrators, teachers, and and no financial support will result in yet another CT REFORM disaster! Thanks for sharing the news!

  • mookalaboona

    I am so sick of idiot Malloy and his useless sidekick Pryor. Thanks Jon

    • Sleepless in Bridgeport

      Pryor is not useless…..he is a malignancy and 5 years from now CT education will be duking it out with Arkansas or maybe Afghanistan for the worst education results in the world. And you will probably need a passport to get into Bridgeport, New London, Waterbury, and Hartford.

  • buygoldandprosper

    Nothing good happens after midnight, especially when it comes to the legislature in Hartford.

  • buygoldandprosper

    Malloy and Pryor working on a new plan to fund the schools.
    Keno and other forms of gaming in the classrooms. Schools will be self-funded in no time and kids can quickly learn the odds against a good education in Connecticut!

    How Revolutionary!

  • buygoldandprosper

    More arrogance from Douche-Bag Dan! Why it seems like just yesterday he was shooting his mouth off about how John-the-Felon was wrong…


  • R.L.

    Don’t be so quick to have the buck stop at Malloy. Yes, he must go and his one and done term can’t end soon enough. Just remember not to let your local legislators off the hook when their elections come around. They are letting this shyster do whatever he wants WITH their blessings. It’s time for them to feel the heat as well.

  • DPJ

    I also believe the new amendment diminishes the input of the NEAG study of the pilot districts that is supposed to be completed this summer. Unless I am reading it wrong, it now seems like the Commissioner only has to take their findings into consideration, instead of being required to act on them. Based on recent events involving NEAG, I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. So districts have to decide if they want to use a system that has not been vetted, or spend even more local $$$ developing one of their own, that can be squashed by the Comissioner who paid his people to write the original one. I’m very surprised the legislators were willing to put this much authority into the hands of one appointed official.

    • Linda174

      I heard the report is not due until January of 2014….so much for accountability, high standards and transparency for the lawyer with no prior teaching experience commissioner.

  • Tom Burns

    I don’t think this one is that bad as read here–anyone who wants to develop their own just has to inform of intent–and those who don’t want to or are not up to it, just take the states plan–this one seems ok to me, but keep on reporting Jon

    • CONconn

      It’s not okay. Many of the districts that opted to use the pilot quickly found out that it’s a piece of junk and have decided to make new plans for next year. The ones still towing the party line and keeping it are doing so because their superintendents or board members are tied to it in some way. If those leadership positions are later filled by someone with integrity a year or so from now, the district will still be haunted by bad decision of the previous clown and the law will make it impossible for them to design their own plan.

  • Joe

    I think the forms mandated by the state use up about 1/2 of the letters in the alphabet. Our summative was ‘Form L’.

    Here’s the website – and it’s not easy to navigate.